In a choice between a weekend at the Silverstone 6 Hours or taking my first trip home to Ireland for two years, Ireland won. In a choice between watching the last hour of the Silverstone 6 Hours or watching a replay of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix, China won. In the first race between the all-new Toyota TS040 LMP1 Hybrid and the all-new Porsche 919 LMP1 Hybrid, Japan won, and won well.
Arriving back from Ireland at 4pm today in the heaviest rain I have seen so far this year did not bode well for the Silverstone 6 Hours, which was running from 12 to 6. We live just a few miles from the Northamptonshire circuit, and I could well imagine the conditions Porsche’s endurance racers would be facing on track. The organisers eventually ended the race half an hour early.
A quick look on Eurosport when we got in the door showed Toyotas numbered 8 and 7 running 1-2, so I stuck with watching the Chinese Grand Prix, and Ricciardo sticking it to Vettel. My quick glimpse was how they finished at Silverstone. Autosport reckoned that switching to intermediate tyres in a light shower after an hour of racing gave the showstopping team of Buemi, Davidson and Nick Lapierre an upper hand that was never relinquished.
Porsche’s LMP1 debut was decided when Jani lost a wheel and the car then retired after repairs. The remaining 919 of Bernhard/Webber/Hartley battled on, finishing two laps behind the winning Toyota and a lap down on the second-placed car.
Looking at the data, the number 8 Toyota ran 167 laps in 6 hours, with 6 pitstops. The car did an average speed of 202 km/h and had a best lap of 1:44.606. Toyota number 7 had a best lap of 1:44.326 with the sole 919 to finish clocking a best lap time of 1:45.245 at an average speed of 201.5 km/h. It appears Porsche is almost a second off the pace, but we’ll see how the 919 goes at the next event.
Third place is still second loser, but there’s a long way to go in this season, and a long way to go at Le Mans. The 1000-horsepower Toyota may turn out to be untouchable, but Porsche can be happy with a podium first time out. Always best not to start cocky.